How Do You Size a Generator?


Quick Answer

Sizing a generator requires adding together all of the appliances that need to be run on the generator, then multiplying the sum of the wattages by 1.5. This allows for power spikes that occur when turning on the appliances in addition to power for running them.

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Full Answer

Portable generators are generally used to power only a few appliances during a blackout, such as a refrigerator, microwave, lights and a television. To power an entire home or business during a power blackout, a standby generator system is preferred.

Each appliance should have a sticker present listing its individual wattage use. For example, a microwave may use between 600 to 1,200 watts, while a 10,000 BTU air conditioner may use 1,500 watts. If the sticker is no longer present, then wattage amounts can typically be found in the owner's manual for the appliance or through the manufacturer.

With a portable generator, power cords must be plugged directly into the generator. A generator may also be plugged into a transfer switch panel that is linked to the building's electrical system. A standby generator system is permanently linked into the building's electrical system and programmed to start as soon as the building's regular power supply shuts down.

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